Jesus often spoke in agricultural parables and allusions, knowing that the farmers, wine producers, wheat gatherers etc would understand. Not much has changed since the ancient days in terms of how wine is made, olives are gathered, wheat is sifted. Today’s layperson, even a city dweller, can understand the simple comparisons He made with gathering wheat as living symbol of gathering His people. But understanding the process of such production does enhance our understanding of the parables and allusions even more. So let’s dig in.
I’m sure you have read (and admired) the following verse from Job a million times. But have you ever considered the prophetic aspects of this powerfully packed scripture? Job 38 is the climactic chapter where God speaks to Job about His own sovereignty over creation, time, and over all the peoples of earth.
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?” (Job 38:22-23)
Have you ever noticed the phrase, “the time of trouble”? Other translations say reserved for “the time of distress”. You will also notice the reference to “the day” of battle and war. These are standard phrases referring to the days of the Tribulation. (For example, Jeremiah 30:7, Obadiah 1:14, Joel 2:11).
God has used hail before in judgment and He will do so again. In the past, He used hail during the plagues He sent to Pharaoh, in themselves pictures of the Revelation judgments of the coming Tribulation.
“The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field“. (Exodus 9:25)
The future judgment will contain another plague of hail-
And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe. (Revelation 16:21)
Gill’s Exposition says of the Job 38 verse,
Of hail we have instances in Scripture, as employed against the Egyptians and Canaanites, Exodus 9:25; and of a reserve of it in the purposes of God, and in prophecy against the day of battle with antichrist, Revelation 16:21. And though there are no instances of snow being used in this way in Scripture, yet there is in history. Strabo reports, that at Corzena and Cambysena, which join to Mount Caucasus, such snows have fallen, that whole companies of men have been swallowed up in them; and even armies have been overwhelmed with them, as the army of the Gauls and such quantities have been thrown down from mountains, on which they have been lodged, that towns, towers, and villages, have been laid prostrate by them and in the year 443, a vast snow destroyed many.
I am so awed by prophecy. The (probably) oldest book of the Bible, Job, (~2000 BC?)contains a prophecy that is parallel to the last book of the Bible, Revelation (~90AD). God has His plan and who can thwart it? He has set aside some for eternal condemnation and others for eternal joy. He has stored aside His wrath to be unleashed upon them, and hail will be part of that stored-up unleashing. He is precise and will do what He says and it will come to pass to the Nth degree.
The Bible is awe-inspiring in its depiction of our God, who authored it and revealed to us what He wants us to know. Part of that knowing is seeing His prophetic mind and His plans come to pass. I praise Him for all His plans, ways, perfections, prophecies.
The purpose of prophecy is:
The disclosing of the will and purposes of God through inspired or Spirit-filled human beings. The OT emphasises the importance of prophecy as a means of knowing God. Many OT prophecies find their fulfilment in Jesus Christ.
Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.
1. Contents of Prophecy
That which is given by the Spirit to the prophet can refer to the past and to the present as well as to the future. However, that which is revealed to the prophet finds its inner unity in this, that it all aims to establish the supremacy of Jehovah. Prophecy views also the detailed events in their relation to the Divine plan, and this latter has for its purpose the absolute establishment of the supremacy of Jehovah in Israel and eventually on the entire earth.
von, O. C. (1915). Prophecy, Prophets. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 2464). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.
Above all, prophecy shows who is LORD over all creation. It points to Jesus. It is history unfolding as it was laid down from the beginning. The LORD has stored up hail and snow, reserved for the day of distress. He will do it.
The Institute for Creation Research has a great intro to Job: Introduction to the book of Job – “It contains more references to Creation, the Flood and other primeval events than any book of the Bible except Genesis, and provides more insight into the age-long conflict between God and Satan than almost any other book. Remarkably, it also seems to contain more modern scientific insights than any other book of the Bible.”
Chuck Swindoll, Job, “Instead of asking where God is in the midst of your pain, the book of Job affirms God’s control and asks us, “Where are we in our pain? Are we trusting our Creator, even though we cannot understand our circumstances?”
Grace to You, “The Book of Job, “The author recounts an era in the life of Job, in which he was tested and the character of God was revealed. New Testament writers directly quote Job two times (Rom. 11:35; 1 Cor. 3:19), plus Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and James 5:11 show Job was a real person.”
I wrote about this in December 2009 and updated it in 2015. I’m taking on the topic once more here in 2021. It is a topic near and dear to me.
Now, I’m not a trained theologian. There are many people who have interpreted this verse in different ways, so I can’t be dogmatic. But I have a settled confidence.
Why? One particular verse. If God “placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it” then I need to understand that if there is no sea, what does ‘eternal’ mean? Plus I have several other reasons I believe interpreting the text to mean that there will indeed be an ocean, but not a sea.
Are you battle weary? Our daily battle as Christians is tiring, isn’t it? We battle our sin. We battle intrusion of other peoples’ sin. We battle false doctrine. We do this daily. There are some bigger battles that crop up, like the one happening at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention on June 15-16. There, a host of like-minded representatives sent from the member churches, called “messengers,” will voice their opposition to Critical Race Theory and Egalitarianism (and its result, women preaching) to the mass who have gathered. The intention is to thwart the liberal drift. A previous battle like this had occurred in 1979-1980, called the Conservative Resurgence. It was an attempt, like the one coming up next week, to re-steer the Convention away from creeping liberalism and toward conservative, more biblical waters.
What word in the New Testament is used only once, in Matthew 24:12?
First, the scene.
The disciples had asked Jesus about the Temple, the times, and when His return would be. His answer is the longest discourse in the NT after the Sermon on the Mount, and the longest answer to any question the disciples asked. It comprises the entire chapters of Matthew 24 and goes on to Matthew 25. The response, given on the Mount of Olives and thus known as the Olivet Discourse, is about the Tribulation period. The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, when Jesus pours out His wrath on the unbelieving world, and punishes Israel for the final 7 years of time, three and a half of which are called the Great Tribulation. (Revelation 12:14, Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7).
There is a Tribulation to come. It is not the Tribulation now. However, the terrible things we see happening on earth today remind us of God’s stored-up wrath that the Lord will pour out on the world during that time of judgment.
Do I refer to the judgments to come because I believe we are in the Tribulation now? Of course not. The rapture of the church will happen first, and then the judgments will be rendered by the Holy and Just Judge exactly and in the order as chronicled in Revelation.
Do I speak of the severe judgment to come in order to instill fear? A little. Holy fear and biblical knowledge of the power of God in wrath is a good thing. His judgment and His wrath are holy attributes of which we should be acquainted.
I’ve been told we should not speak of judgment. “It’s so negative” people say. “You should only talk of the happy things to make people feel comfortable with Jesus,” they say. Yet, the first thing John the Baptist said in his ministry was to warn us to flee the wrath to come. He started with a message of repentance, because judgment was looming. (“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 3:1; and Matthew 3:7, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?“)
Repentance for sin and warnings of judgment are part of the Gospel message.
Kay Cude is a poet whose sensitivity to the glorious salvation of Jesus Christ is uniquely expressed through poetry and picture. Here is her latest offering, in which she explains her thought process. Enjoy.
If you look closely at the tower, you’ll see a tiny figure of someone, which refers to the statement, “As gazed I o’er the valley fair, to there below from tower high.”
That little figure caught my eye, as well as the city lighted up and the storm approaching from the left (approaching spiritual death). So I began to write. The city represents the safety of true salvation in Christ and understanding His Gospel.
The people represent those captured by a “different gospel” suggested as the “real” place of safety. Even though they “know” God’s truth — they are persuaded to run to false teaching and reject Christ.
Christ’s refuge is known to them and still stands in its truth, but when extreme peril approaches, they are convinced by someone’s whim (spiritual deception), to flee to eternal death and separation. Even the donkey digs in his heels against the “unknown” way,” and the dog barks at their sudden rejection.
Their end is eternal separation and eternal living death because they quickly deserted Christ’s truth for a distorted gospel.
As the time draws nigh, people less and less look to prophecy as a legitimate study of the Bible. They dismiss the prophetic, are skeptical of it, or simply ignore it. The silence of the pulpits is resounding, and the ignorance of the people is disheartening.
I’d like to spend a bit of time in encouraging us all to study the word, and not to ignore the prophetic. Lambert Dolphin wrote,
“A major portion of both the Old and New Testament is devoted to prophecy- nearly one third of the Scripture. Only four of the 66 books of the Bible are without prophecy-Ruth, the Song of Solomon, Philemon, and 3 John. Even the shortest book of the Bible mentions prophecy (Jude 14, 17-18, which refers to Enoch and the second coming of the Lord). Out of the Old Testament’s 23,210 verses, 6,641 contain predictive material, over twenty eight percent. Out of the New Testament’s 7,914 verses, 1,711 contain predictive material, over 21 percent.”
“Unfortunately, many pastors, priests and ministry leaders here in the U.S. and around the world are not teaching Bible prophecy — as I see it, there are four major reasons for this.”
–First, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of belief in the power of God’s Word. –Second, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of knowledge of — and sound training in — Bible prophecy.
–Third, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a fear of being lumped in with “prophecy nuts” and those who peddle sensationalism. –Fourth, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of understanding of the times in which we live and the increasingly close return of Christ.
Rosenberg fleshes out each of the points.
Prophecy is the very Word of God, spoken by His mouth to His servants. (Revelation 1:1, Luke 1:70). Before the Word was written, He spoke it. The first prophecy was given to Adam and Eve in the Garden as He related to them the curse of the Fall from Grace, but promised a Messiah. (Genesis 3:15).
Poor Jeremiah. God spoke to Him and Jeremiah spoke to the people. Then God told Jeremiah to write the words down. Jeremiah did. However, Jeremiah’s words from God were so ill-received that King Jehoiakim burned the scroll of everything that had been written. The King burned it bit by bit as Baruch read it. The LORD then told Jeremiah to write it all over again, a monumental work, and this time God added words that cursed the king. (Jeremiah 30). God’s word will not be denied.
So prophecy was and is the word of the Lord, whether spoken as it was in the Old Testament or written as it was then and it is now. It will be spoken again, in the Tribulation, when God sends His Two Witnesses to prophesy for 1,260 days. (Revelation 11:3).
Prophecy is extremely important, we are told many times. 1 Thessalonians 5:20 warns us not to despise prophesyings. For example, in 2 Peter 1:19 we are told it is “a sure word.” This is because almost nothing else illustrates His sovereignty more than prophecy. How so?
“And the LORD said to Moses, “Is the LORD’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.” (Numbers 11:23). He delivers His word and tells us to test it, watch for it. This is because His Word is sure and God knows it will come true.
Pastor Jim McClarty discussed the Irresistibility of God in his 2009 sermon delivered at the Sovereign Grace Bible Conference. He made several wonderful points during his exciting 1 hour sermon, but his second point is the one I’d like to bring to you now. He said,
“God’s irrestibility is demonstrated in prophecy. Prophecy is a risky venture. There are no other major religious pieces of literature in the world that contain the amount of prophecy that the bible does. It’s one of the most unique characteristics of the bible, and it is chock full of prophecy. The reason it’s risky is, you can check it.” (Numbers 11:23, Deuteronomy 18:22).
People often think that the Old Testament times were heavily prophetic all the time. They believe that miracles happened every day and that God talked to the prophets every minute. It is not so. The miracles we read about in the Old Testament were spaced far apart, years, decades, centuries, even. After Micah, there were no prophets for 400 years, until John the Baptist came, and John performed no miracles as Elijah or Moses did. For most of the generations in the OT, they read the scrolls, listened to the priests, and lived lives in submission to Holy God and were waiting for their Messiah to come.
In our day, we read the pages of the Bible, listen to the pastors, and live lives in submission to the Messiah who has come- and will soon come again!
I love prophecy. Now, it is true that people can get carried away with the doctrine of prophecy and/or look at the newspaper and back-date prophecies into news articles. Mr Rosenberg was right that there are nuts who run away with prophecy predictions and claim to hear a word from the Lord as Jeremiah or Elijah did. Fortunately, as Jim McClarty said, we can check the prophecies in the bible. We can rejoice that our Holy God not only is the creator of the universe and the author and architect and finisher of our faith, but His word is sure. He is sovereign and that means, according to Rev. Matt Slick at CARM, “Sovereignty in relation to God means that God has the absolute right to do with His creation as He desires.”
Some verses that support this are as follows: Psalm 115:3, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” Isaiah 46:10, “Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure;”
Faith in God is always trustworthy, even when answers to life’s issues and traumas do not always arrive. We must trust God in spite of what we see. But when we do see, as in prophecy coming true as written in the pages of His word, we rejoice that He is in control and our faith will prosper us.
“And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” (2 Chronicles 20:20).
Back to Basics: What is Hell? Back to Basics: What is the Rapture? Back to Basics: How to Study Your Bible Back to Basics: What is Justification? Back to Basics: What is a miracle? Back to Basics: All about Angels Back to Basics: What is “The Lamb”? Back to Basics: Who is Satan?
I wrote this series in 2011, ten years ago. Things are worse now, as we know. Things have worsened exponentially. So I’m bringing back this series for another round in hopes it might help someone in this decade.
I’ve been mulling over some things about apostasy. This is because in the course of my online and real life discernment and encouragement ministry, I see that the essential doctrines of our faith not only are being eroded “out there”, but also “in here”, in Christian places and in people close to me. I am horrified at the depth and breadth of the erosion of what I believed were the obvious givens. I am grieving over the adherence of many people to the destructive heresies.